“He who seeks a life of peace and ease must not tell all he knows, nor judge all he sees” — Unknown
A story can take many forms. It can be written in a novel, a short story or in poetic verse.
They don’t have to be written either. Most stories are oral.
Well, that’s not true. Most stories aren’t even written or spoken. Like the ones we tell ourselves.
I think we’ve all felt this kind of pain before. The thought of leaving some untold truth within ourselves in the face of an untruth, a misleading statement, is tough.
We feel as if we owe it to ourselves, our intelligence, those around us listening to the lie, to speak up. If left alone it’ll bother us afterward. It will feel like cowardice.
If you’re not the kind to take all comers, or you just don’t have the energy for the debate, you’re essentially left with this, and one other option.
Where you sit, wait and watch the conversation unfold. You hold opinions and counter arguments in your chest and let the storm of misinformation pass you by, gone like the wind.
It may seem like defeat, but that stems from a place of insecurity. Like you couldn’t have told them off if you wanted to, like you don’t have an answer.
But is this even the way?
It’s true some conversations aren’t worth the effort. Picking a fight with stupidity often brings you to that level.
It’s no secret that the smartest person in the room isn’t the best debater (hello presidential nominees).
Sitting back and watching fools make themselves is all well and good, you are not obligated to engage.
“You know a wise man once said nothing at all” — Drake
But in this silence there is an opportunity. A chance for growth that you’d be wise to recognize.
An overlooked aspect of conversation is that it is a team sport. You work together and share the results. It’s true that a singular person can dominate the topic, but give and take is required or else the leader ends up rambling. The conversation ends where their monologue begins.
This form of organized conflict is often characterized as a wrestling match, or a card game, but it seems, to me, less performative than that.
It isn’t a display.
When our turn comes to speak we feel obligated to give something, less we appear as an actor on stage who has forgotten their lines.
Yet, I’ve found the best conversations I’ve ever been a part of to be humbling and vulnerable. No one wants to display that. They deliver that side of themselves in confidence. No one wants to confide when they are forced to.
It is within this dynamic that opportunity lurks.
If you often have stories to share amid conversations about difficult subjects, if you are rarely at a loss for words, if you spend time thinking and want to use all the ammo you have carefully stacked…
Question this part of yourself. This mentality.
That answer you come to so immediately and clearly in the face of adversity is like a life preserver in a storm of uncertainty. It’s your holdfast, keeping you tethered.
Keep that line, but don’t feel you have to use it.
Instead, see where the dumbass idea takes you. Challenge your ability to swim in uncertain waters, challenge yourself.
“Being still and doing nothing, are not the same thing” — Mr.Han, The Karate Kid (2010)
If the school of anxiety is the school of greatness, and the mark of an education is entertaining thoughts without accepting them, should you not become comfortable in your own doubt? Of the certainty of others, and the thoughts that challenge your own?
There’s a sense of security that accompanies an answer, and a strong satisfaction that emerges with it. It is possible that the answer you have come too, however well crafted, is preventing you from uncovering a greater realization. One you may find if you’re willing to listen.
Don’t doubt yourself. This isn’t a bid to question your own confidence. It’s recognizing a chance to expand your thinking, seeing opportunities where none presented themselves before.
You’re not stuck between a rock and a hard place; between silence and an idiot.
Let the idiot be, he may teach you something about yourself.